As a functioning theatre addict without an endless resource of cash (my biggest Euromillions win was £13.40) I’ve learned to get my fix without always having to splash out huge sums of cash (for big name west end shows it can be inevitable). I thought I’d pass on some of my tips for seeing great theatre without having to mortgage the house and regardless of your age (so no annoying under 25/30 only options here)
Here is part 1 of my top tips for an inexpensive night of quality theatre, regardless of age. The only caveat is that for many of these you have to be on the ball and ready to pounce when tickets go on sale, so make sure you sign up for those theatre mailing lists! Rather than write a huge essay that no-one can get through I thought I’d focus on 3 theatres per instalment. Am sharing these in no particular order, just going with the flow!
The Hampstead Theatre Downstairs
I’ve seen some great new writing in this space. At full price the tickets go for £12 which is already a bargain, but if you are ready to move fast when they go on sale to the public the first 5 previews go for only £5.
I’ve seen plays by some fabulous emerging playwrights, as well as new pieces by established, big names (most recently a lovely play by Richard Bean of ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ fame).
Home to some amazing musicals that have gone on to more mainstream success (shows like ‘In the Heights’ and ‘Titanic’), as well as some great, thought-provoking plays. At full price the tickets range from £20-£25, depending on whether you’re seeing something in the larger or smaller space. However, if you book in preview, you can get a main stage show for only £14 (smaller stage at £12).
Again these sell out so you need to book quickly. I’d say pounce on preview tickets for The Life, but all evening previews are now sold out with only matinee previews still having availability, but given the cast I’d say you’d still be getting a bargain with a £25 ticket.
The Orange Tree Theatre
This is a beautiful theatre, fully in the round in Richmond. They have a really interesting mix of plays, plus one off events, so worth getting on their mailing list. I’m still buzzing from seeing Lemn Sissay do a reading of his play “Something Dark” on Sunday, as well as the fabulously staged, fresh & original “Winter Solstice” on the Monday.
Preview tickets are £15 for all shows. If you can’t do the previews but can do earlier in the week Mon-Thurs tickets are £20. The highest rate tickets are for those determined to go on weekends with Fri/Sats going for £25.
That brings us to another tip, so if you can’t do the previews, it is worth bearing in mind that certain venues charge less if you go on the less obvious nights. So if you aren’t wedded to Fri/Sat theatre going, you can make savings by going on a Monday. Don’t underestimate the psychological benefit of starting the work week with something to look forward to in the evening! More theatres that do great early week deals will be covered in future ‘London Theatre on a Budget’ posts.
Happy theatre going, I hope you discover some gems.